Amsterdam is home to people from more than 180 nationalities, making it one of the most diverse cities in Europe. The city’s culinary scene reflects that. There’s Argentinian steak and Chinese dim sum, Neapolitan pizza and Spanish tapas. A notably large influence is Indonesian cuisine and a focus on rijsttafel (small plates) due to the era of Dutch colonization.
Spices from abroad have added new flavors to a cuisine long maligned as bland comfort food. Yet nothing satisfies like a warm bowl of snert (pea soup so thick you can stand a spoon in it) or stamppot (potatoes mashed with endive or some other root vegetable) on a cold winter day — both classic Dutch dishes served in brown cafés and restaurants throughout the city.
Whatever your craving, there’s a funky hideaway, sophisticated hotspot, historic watering hole, or trendy pub sure to satisfy in the Dutch capital.
Central Station Waterfront
Vermeer $$$$ — Named after the Dutch Master painter Johannes Vermeer, this Michelin-starred restaurant is run by chef Christopher Naylor. It’s located in a renovated 17th century building in Barbizon Palace, just across from Central Station. The menu is pre-set with options of four or six courses, and there’s a well-curated wine pairing list. The seasonal ingredients and technique make Vermeer worth a splurge if you’re out to impress.
Where: Prins Hendrikkade 59-72, 1012 AD Amsterdam, Netherlands
Wolf Atelier $$$ — Gastronomy competes with a 360-degree view at Austrian chef Michael Wolf’s urban atelier, which is set in a glass building on a 1920s railroad bridge. Lunch and dinner options can be à la carte or a set four- or five-course meal (including a vegetarian collection). The big blowout here is a 15-course tasting menu featuring the kinds of inventive small plates that gained Wolf culinary kudos in his four years at Envy on the Prinsengracht. Favorites include seafood like langoustine, brill, and seabass, as well as meat like veal and steak tartare.
Where: Westerdoksplein 20, 1013 AZ Amsterdam, Netherlands
Choux $$$ — Expect the unexpected at chef Merijn van Berlo and sommelier Figo van Onna’s contemporary gem, serving lunch and dinner on the ground floor of an office building tucked between train tracks and the IJ River. The seasonal menu lists only the four main ingredients of three- to seven-course meals, like trout, langoustine, duck, and pear. Staff are happy to recommend wines to pair with dishes that emphasize fresh, seasonal produce.
Where: De Ruijterkade 128, 1011 AC Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Duchess $$$$ — London hospitality meets Viennese grandeur at this Belle Époque brasserie inside a century-old former bank building that’s now part of the upscale W Amsterdam Hotel. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served under a soaring, stained-glass ceiling dressed with chandeliers. Come for sophisticated nouveau-Niçoise cuisine, decadent desserts, signature cocktails and punches, and a posh high tea service.
Where: Spuistraat 172, 1012 VT Amsterdam, Netherlands
Breda $$ — A little retro and a little French with white linen tablecloths, dim lighting, and an extensive wine list, this upscale sibling of Guts & Glory on the Utrechtsestraat is acclaimed for its creative use of ingredients and playful flavor combinations. Chefs Guillaume de Beer and Freek van Noortwijk offer an array of dishes that you won’t know about until they arrive at your table. Lunch and dinner options are limited to “a small selection,” “a wide selection,” or “all we’ve got.”
Where: Singel 210, 1016 AB Amsterdam, Netherlands
Frank’s Smokehouse $$$ — What began as a backyard smoking experiment in 1994 is now a relaxed father-son bistro attached to an artisanal smokery near Het Scheepvaartmuseum. For nearly two decades, the smokery has been the source of some of the city’s best smoked fish, meat, poultry, and dairy products. Since 2000, it’s also served smokin’ good fish, aged beef, and charcuterie fare for lunch and dinner, including a three-course chef’s menu in the evening.
Where: Oostenburgervoorstraat 1, 1018 MN Amsterdam, Netherlands
Red Light District
Blauw aan de Wal $$$ — Stroll down a narrow cobbled lane past red-lit cabins to uncover this classy hideaway in the heart of the Red Light District. In this multilevel space, antique weights hint at the 17th-century herb warehouse that once stood in what’s now a sophisticated restaurant with a charming garden for outdoor meals. Seasonal ingredients inspire rotating, Mediterranean-style three- and five-course menus.
Where: Oudezijds Achterburgwal 99, 1012 DD Amsterdam, Netherlands
Olivar $$ — Take a break from the buzz of De Wallen at this Andalusian-style tapas bar, which is perfect for sharing a meal with friends. Amidst Flamenco guitars and art depicting Spanish musicians, dine on gambas al aioli, patatas bravas, tortilla de patatas, Spanish chorizo, and fried calamari. Entrees include Spanish favorites like merluza a la navarra, estofado de jerez, and a paella that requires a half-hour wait.
Where: Oudezijds Voorburgwal 10, 1012 GD Amsterdam, Netherlands
Oriental City $ — This Cantonese restaurant on lively Oudezijds Voorburgwal is always filled with diners devouring some of the city’s best dim sum. Packed on Saturdays, it’s also a go-to place for locals craving classic stir-fry dishes, shrimp dumplings, and roasted Peking duck.
Where: Oudezijds Voorburgwal 177-179, 1012 EV Amsterdam, Netherlands
Restaurant-Café in de Waag $$ — Romance meets history at this intimate restaurant inside Amsterdam’s 15th-century city gate. Once a city weigh house and guildhall (among other things), as well as where Rembrandt came to paint dead bodies, it’s now a castle-like spot for lunch, snacks, High Tea, or a candle-lit dinner with an expansive terrace overlooking bustling Nieuwmarkt. The food is typical Dutch food with smoked fish, salads, soups, and steaks.
Where: Nieuwmarkt 4, 1012 CR Amsterdam, Netherlands
Greetje $$$ — Acclaimed by critics and beloved by locals, Greetje serves some of the city’s most creative Dutch cuisine. Come for traditional recipes with a twist, like stewed rabbit with sweet potato mash, roasted duck with Amsterdam cherry gin, and Tompouce with blackberries, curd, white chocolate, and blackberry jelly. The ambiance is old-fashioned, and the service is fast — a rarity in Amsterdam.
Where: Peperstraat 23, 1011 TJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
Thai Bird Snackbar $ — Lines are part of the experience at this legendary hole-in-the-wall, which serves some of the best pad Thai and spring rolls west of Bangkok. If you can’t find a seat in the tiny space, opt for take-out or head across the street to Bird Thai, a sit-down from the same owners that has equally tasty Thai fare at slightly higher prices.
Where: Zeedijk 77, 1012 AS Amsterdam, Netherlands
Western Canal Belt
Envy $$$ — Share plates at this canalside bistro are inspired by Milan, Rome, and Barcelona. Choose from à la carte delicacies like pigs cheeks and lacquered eel or go with cured meats and cheeses. For a splurge, opt for a tasting menu. While watching chefs prepare dishes, check out the sausages, oysters, jams, and wines showcased in 26 oak-finished refrigerators.
Where: Prinsengracht 381, 1016 HL Amsterdam, Netherlands
‘t Zwaantje $$ — Open since 1973, this café has served Dutch and international favorites in an Old World-style interior replete with knickknacks. The name means “swan” in English and is named after the swans that skim the canals connecting the Nine Streets.
Where: Berenstraat 12, 1016 GH Amsterdam, Netherlands
Van Stapele $ — For those who would wait 45 minutes for a chocolate cookie still warm from the oven. At Vera van Stapele’s tiny shop off bustling Spui, people line up daily for cookies baked on-site with rich Valrhona cocoa and an oozing, white chocolate center. Take note: The cookies are often sold out by 4:00 PM.
Where: Heisteeg 4, 1012 WC Amsterdam, Netherlands
Eastern Canal Belt
Café de Jaren $$ — Join locals for breakfast, lunch, or a late dinner at this airy former bank with a spacious terrace overlooking the Amstel. River views, nooks and crannies for relaxing, sustainably produced ingredients, a salad bar, and a relaxed vibe make it a good choice for any meal.
Where: Nieuwe Doelenstraat 20-20, 1012 CP Amsterdam, Netherlands
Tujuh Maret $$ — An unpretentious, family-run restaurant that serves some of the best Indonesian fare in Amsterdam. While its better-known (and more frenetic) neighbor Tempo Doeloe has been dishing up similar dishes for decades, Tujuh Maret adds warm, welcoming service to the equation, as well as many vegetarian options.
Where: Utrechtsestraat 73, 1017 VJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
Vleminckx Sausmeesters $ — No serious street foodie would leave Amsterdam without downing at least one cornet of hot Belgian fries slathered with some artery-bursting sauce. While they’re sold around town, this legendary hole-in-the-wall has served some of the best since 1957. The fries come topped with any of the 25 sauces ranging from classic mayo to saté and samurai variations. Have yours with rotisserie chicken and Heineken on draft from The Chicken Bar down the street, which opened in 2018.
Where: Voetboogstraat 33, 1012 XK Amsterdam, Netherlands
Ron Gastrobar Oriental $$$ — Since 2013, Amsterdam chef Ron Blaauw has offered an eclectic mix of dim sum, pan-Asian fusion dishes, and dry-aged steaks at this chic gastropub. Choose from more than two dozen small dishes you can share, or splurge on a six-course tasting menu that features some of the city’s best Peking duck.
Where: Kerkstraat 23, 1017 GA Amsterdam, Netherlands
Sama Sebo $$ — Spicy aromas will lead you to one of Holland’s oldest Indonesian restaurants, but you’ll need a reservation to enjoy a feast here. Against a backdrop of muted bamboo and vibrant textiles, share a traditional rijstafel on P.C. Hoofstraat, one of Amsterdam’s poshest streets.
Where: Pieter Cornelisz Hooftstraat 27, 1071 BL Amsterdam, Netherlands
Yerba $$$ — Self-described as “a plant-forward restaurant for creative, seasonal dining,” Yerba puts vegetables center stage in vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore dishes. Weekend brunch includes such delicacies as pumpkin pancakes, jalapeño cornbread, avocado gluten-free toast, and zucchini beignets, as well as sophisticated cocktails like knockout Herb Garden with Spector vermouth.
Where: Ruysdaelstraat 48, 1071 XE Amsterdam, Netherlands
Guts & Glory $$$ — Whitewashed brick walls and single-bulb light fixtures are the backdrop for rotating, themed menus inspired by cultures from around the world at this bright restaurant near bustling Rembrantdplein. Choose a tasting menu of five to seven courses, with the option to “add some glory” with a side of smoked eel, Ibérico ham, Persian caviar, or a platter of cheeses.
Where: Utrechtsestraat 6, 1017 VN Amsterdam, Netherlands
Café Schiller $$ — Escape the tourists on Rembrandtplein at this dimly lit, Art Deco brasserie that’s been serving Amsterdammers for more than a century. French wines by the glass, Belgian beers, and a French-inspired snack and dinner menu with classics like fish soup, steak tartare, and confit de canard make it a delicious retreat from the lively square.
Where: Rembrandtplein 24-A, 1017 CV Amsterdam, Netherlands
Toscanini $$ — For more than three decades, Toscanini has been the go-to place in the Jordaan for hearty Italian fare. Bright, open, and brimming with locals, it’s hardly an option for a romantic date. But if you’re craving impeccably prepared carpaccio, fish, pasta, veal cutlets, and chargrilled steaks, this is your spot.
Where: Lindengracht 75, 1015 KD Amsterdam, Netherlands
Moeders $$ — Fill up on hearty Dutch comfort food at this homey restaurant with mismatched plates and photos of customers’ mothers on its walls. Moeders has a rijstafel that’s built around potatoes, and the main ingredient is stamppot, a mashed potato and vegetable serving that almost qualifies as the national dish. Don’t forget to bring a picture of your mom to add to the collection.
Where: Rozengracht 251, 1016 SX Amsterdam, Netherlands
Café Papeneiland $ — Since 1642, this café overlooking one of Amsterdam’s prettiest canals has served draft ales and typical Dutch fare. The famed apple pie devoured by Bill Clinton is made on site. Ask staff to reveal the secret tunnel entrance to what was a clandestine Catholic church during the Reformation.
Where: Prinsengracht 2, 1015 DV Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Avocado Show $$ — Expect a wait at this popular brunch and lunch spot where avocados (as the name suggests) star in visually stunning salads, sandwiches, pancakes, and egg dishes. A smaller boutique outlet near Vondelpark offers similar fare, including take-out, without the lines.
Where: Daniël Stalpertstraat 61, 1072 XB Amsterdam, Netherlands
Restaurant Bazar $$ — Step into a world of North African and Middle Eastern cuisine at this casual hideaway behind the doors of an old church. After the buzz of the surrounding Albert Cuyp Market, it’s a perfect place to share platters of grilled kebab, fresh tuna, and falafel against a backdrop of colorful tile murals and lights.
Where: Albert Cuypstraat 182, 1073 BL Amsterdam, Netherlands
Little Collins $$ — The best place in town for a boozy brunch, which is served daily until 4:00 PM, also offers share plates for dinner. The options give a nod to the food and wine of Melbourne’s Little Collins street. Try a crispy potato waffle topped with tarragon hollandaise and a poached egg or slow-roasted pulled pork over grilled polenta, then wash it down with the signature Kimchi Bloody Mary. A second location is in the Oud-West.
Where: Eerste Sweelinckstraat 19F, 1073 CL Amsterdam, Netherlands
Zaza’s $$$ — Inspired by the English comedy series Absolutely Fabulous, Irish foodie Susie Roche opened this intimate restaurant with a menu that changes every three months. The vibe is cosmopolitan but relaxed, the cuisine classic but creative, and the wine list extensive — including an impressive Champagne selection.
Where: Daniël Stalpertstraat 103, 1072 XD Amsterdam, Netherlands
Foodhallen $ — You can eat your way around the world at this tram depot turned indoor food court that buzzes with activity day and night. From crispy soft-shell crab buns at Le Big Fish to rice-paper rolls at Viet View, burgers with sweet-potato fries at the Butcher, and potent drinks at the Gin & Tonic Bar, there’s something for everyone at this Oud-West hotspot, perfect for thawing out in inclement weather.
Where: Bellamyplein 51, 1053 AT Amsterdam, Netherlands
Waterkant $$ — Hidden behind a huge parking garage, this casual restaurant with an expansive terrace has been a local favorite since its 2014 debut. Waterfront views, draft beers, and a Suriname-inspired menu with specialties like peanut soup, duck spring rolls, fried dumplings, and roti rolls make it a perfect summer hangout. If you’re starving, order the Jamaican Jerk ribs — a whopping 16 barbecued bones served with coleslaw and fries.
Where: Marnixstraat 246, 1016 TL Amsterdam, Netherlands
HappyHappyJoyJoy $$ — Feast on pan-Asian flavors in dishes with Thai, Malay, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Chinese, and Korean influences under a ceiling of red umbrellas at this restaurant. It’s the latest opening of chef Julius Jaspers of Top Chef fame. Typical dim sum specialties like steamed dumplings, spring rolls, and bao buns are perfect for sharing at lunch or dinner. A second location in De Pijp has a 14-seat private dining room, plus a photo-booth to capture the fun.
Where: Bilderdijkstraat 158HS, 1053 LC Amsterdam, Netherlands
Nomads $$ — From Peru to Jordan, this “traveling restaurant” explores the world of food with a menu focused on a different country’s cuisine every six months. Opt for the “Chef’s Experience” for lunch or dinner, or choose from à la carte small plates that are perfect for sharing with friends.
Where: Oranje-Vrijstaatkade 55, 1093 KS Amsterdam, Netherlands
Wilde Zwijnen $$ — Exposed brick walls and rough wood tables set a shabby-chic stage for dishes made with local, seasonal ingredients at this trendy Dutch-cuisine haunt in Oost. Choose three or four courses, order some wine, and let the chefs work their magic for dinner or a weekend lunch. For something lighter, head next door to the Eetbar, where small share plates are served.
Where: Javaplein 23, 1095 CJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
Risjel $$$ — Named for the Flemish city of Lille, this bright bistro has been a hit with locals since 2012. A changing three-course Chef’s Menu features modern takes on French classics like fish soup, roast chicken, and côte de boeuf. Upscale but unpretentious, it’s a great place for a weekday or Saturday night dinner, whether it’s a special occasion or just a night out with friends.
Where: Marcusstraat 52, 1091 TK Amsterdam, Netherlands
De Kas $$$ — For a farm-to-table splurge, head to this 1920s greenhouse where vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers grown on-site star in three- to six-course lunch and dinner menus. Come for white asparagus topped with hollandaise in spring, composed salads year-round, and roasted whole fish when it’s fresh. The wine list offers 40 sustainable wines, many available by the glass.
Where: Kamerlingh Onneslaan 3, 1097 DE Amsterdam, Netherlands
Pllek $$ — Part organic restaurant, part man-made beach, and part holistic hangout, Pllek is worlds away from Amsterdam’s gabled mansions. Yet it’s in its element in post-industrial Noord. Housed in recycled shipping containers, the restaurant features locally sourced dishes made with sustainability in mind. The real attraction is views from massive windows, as well as comfy bean bags on the sandy waterfront. DJs spin tunes on Saturdays, and there are drop-in yoga classes (in English) on Sunday mornings.
Where: T.T. Neveritaweg 59, 1033 WB Amsterdam, Netherlands
Café de Ceuvel $ — With a vibe that harkens back to the rebellious ‘60s, the centerpiece of Noord’s clean-tech playground is a mellow hangout with a sustainable mission. Housed in a building crafted from upcycled materials, the kitchen uses local, organic ingredients for dishes seasoned with herbs grown in a rooftop aquaponics greenhouse. Try The Unwanted Goose Sandwich served with smoked goose from birds shot at Schiphol Airport to prevent them from winding up in a jet engine.
Where: Korte Papaverweg 4, 1032 KB Amsterdam, Netherlands
Restaurant Moon $$$$ — Come for the views, stay for three- to seven-course lunch and dinner menus (including vegetarian options). Located on the 19th floor of the A’DAM Toren, Restaurant Moon is a little pretentious but a lot of eye-popping fun. It’s the perfect place for a special occasion or for popping the question against a panoramic backdrop that changes by the minute.
Where: Overhoeksplein 3, 1031 KS Amsterdam, Netherlands
Madam $$ — More casual than its spacey sibling on the floor below (but with the same WOW factor and revolving views), this Mediterranean restaurant perched atop the A’DAM Toren offers two- and three-course lunches and dinners. After the sun sets, the music rises, and Madam transforms into a trendy sky-bar serving fine brews, stellar cocktails, and stunning city panoramas.
Where: Overhoeksplein 3, 1031 KS Amsterdam, Netherlands